The swans historically favor the Pend Oreille River Valley with a brief stop as they journey to ancestral breeding grounds on the Arctic tundra, hence their common name. A medium distance migrant, the Cygnus columbianus may travel from as far away as New Mexico, the California coast, and Colorado River, or as near as southern Idaho. Whatever the distance, they are a welcome sight and sound; a herald of spring.
The tundra swan is an elegant bird. In flocking with its larger cousin, the trumpeter, the tundra is distinguished by just a bit of yellow above the bill and an erect neck posture observed during takeoff and initial flight.
Mother Nature holds her weather secrets close and leaves the rest of us guessing when the most abundant numbers of the snow-white swans will be at Calispel Lake. Ranging in numbers from a small flock to hundreds, the spectacle of flapping wings and sparkling, all-white plumage is always memorable. The cacophony of bugling calls and water slapping can be heard from far away.
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